27 JANUARY 1900, Page 37

Early Yorkshire Schools. By Arthur Francis Leach. Vol. I. (Yorkshire

Archaeological Society.)—This volume, edited by Mr. Leach for the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, gives us some light on a dark subject,—education in pre-Reformation days. An introduction of seventy-four pages summarises the contents of about three times as many pages of original documents relating to three ancient Yorkshire schools,—York, Beverley, and Ripon. By the word " ancient" is meant more than most people have an idea of. The Cathedral School, otherwise called St. Peter's School, of York, traces back its history to the year 730; Beverley School may be two centuries younger ; and Ripon School, though we do not know so much of its early times, is very probably of about the same date ; anyhow, it goes back to before the Conquest. Perhaps the most interesting document in the volume is Alcuin's poem, in which York School and its teachers figure largely. Alcuin was taught there by Albert (Ethelbert). Ethel- bert continued to teach after he had succeeded to the arch- bishopric. When he resigned, the offices were separated, and Alcuin was put into the Master's chair. He, says Alcuin :— " Tradidit ass alio cares super mule, gazes Llbrortun mato, pate qui sewer aalmalt,"— thia alius flatus being Alcuin himself, whose name— "Fronts sus statim pramentia catmint' prodeat." (Is also for alit in Alcuin Pi His catalogue, so to speak, of the School Library is very interesting. The great Fathers, Eastern and Western, were there, and Bede, Boethius, Aristotle, Cicero (" rhetor quoque Tullius ingens"), Virgil, Statists, and Lucan, of the Roman poets, and a collection of the Latin grammarians, Servius, Priscian, and the like. A letter from Alcuin to the Canons of York is not less interesting in its way. He is very affectionate and grateful, but still the schoolmaster. He advises his friends not to wear fine clothes, Mica-rum consuetudine, and to prefer the cathedral with its mundis- sima liming to the dirty streets (lutulentas semitas) of the town. But the book is full of interesting things, and we find it difficult to stop. One important matter must be noticed, the meaning of the word libera. The late Dr. Kennedy stoutly main- tained that libera meant free of ecclesiastical control, not free of fees, because "of school-keeping as a gainful profession we find no trace in the Middle Ages." This contention is now upset. In 1310 a newly appointed schoolmaster at Beverley had a dispute with the succentor as to the number of choristers who were to be tiberi,—i.e , taught free. The Chapter decided that all choristers were to have the privilege, but that the succentor was not to defraud the master by imposing sham choristers on him. Another proof that school- keeping was gainful is to be found in the energy with which the licensed teacher proceeded against unauthorised rivals. In 1304, Robert of Dalton was warned to give up his rival school within nine days under penalty of excommunication. The same thing occurs several times. Mr. Leach, we see, speaks of the Reforma_ tion as "a great revolutionary deluge." He has been taken to mean that the movement of the sixteenth century was adverse to education by writers who probably hate the Reformation for other reasons. He says here that " many [schools] were swept away altogether, most escaped." The plundering nobility laid their hands on everything they could get, but they got less of the school monies than they. wanted. It is monstrous to suggest that Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer favoured the robbery of schools, but the reactionaries of the day do not hesitate to do it.